Album: Theory of Mind
Band: Svengali
Release Date: March 17, 2015
Label: None (Independent)
Reviewer: Habib T

When I first heard their 2014 EP Unscathed, I knew that Dubai-based band Svengali have a lot of potential and that they’ll put out even more fantastic stuff in the near future. They actually did. Svengali was formed in 2013 in Dubai, and has come a long way since. Theory of Mind is audible proof of that progress and achievement. The 13-track debut album, mixed and produced by Haven Studio’s Hadi Sarieddine (guitarist of Benevolent), has had its artwork and album cover beautifully done by Ishtar Al Shaybani of Ishtar Couture.

 In general, the album contains plenty of elements that remind me of Dark Tranquillity, In Flames, Slipknot, Behemoth, and some electronic influences. To me, they brought out the best of those elements and added to them their own twist, emotion, and style.

Theory of Mind begins with “Lucid”, an acoustic instrumental with a hint of suspense that sets the tone for the rest of the album. I feel that Khalid Al Temimi’s drumming is heavy and powerful throughout the album, particularly in “Deny”, “Floodgates”, “Laced in Sin”, and the interestingly-titled “Inertia (Part 1)” (a hint at a possible second part?). In terms of guitar work, my favorite riff was in “Sink or Swim”, which is absolutely eargasmic and out of this world, along with an unforgettable chorus. “Pray for Sanity” has a killer opening and the most brutal vocal work by Adnan Mryhij, and heartfelt, beautiful singing by Fadi Al Shami. So much emotion was poured into this album in general and the aforementioned song in particular. The catchiest tune of Theory of Mind in my opinion is “Blindfolds”, complete with brilliant lyrics and headbang-inducing riffage. “Thirteen Suns” is also a treat for heavy music lovers. The Bassist Ali Square and rhythm guitarist JM also do one heck of a job on the entire album. “Resonate” is a wonderful closing track, complemented by a motivating atmosphere and riveting chorus “We are the fearless ones!”

With that being said, I do think some things could have been done better on the album. A ballad or acoustic song could have been included to add in on the variety of sound that we saw back in the Unscathed EP. Some songs do seem somewhat similar to each other for the first-time listener, but the album differentiates itself as one listens to it more. The heavy and hard-hitting tunes might need to be balanced out by the band's softer side that we have seen before, or perhaps with more diversity in the heavy tunes themselves. 

Regardless, I could say that the more you listen to Theory of Mind, the more you’ll like it. What I also enjoyed in Theory of Mind are the lyrics and their uplifting, positive theme. The contrast of that with the music and the clean and heavy singing all precipitate in a debut album beyond expectations. It is a huge step up from the Unscathed EP. Truly, Svengali have really outdone themselves this time, and have set a standard not only for themselves but for the entire scene in the region. 

Score: 8/10

  You can listen to the full album here.
  You can buy it online from their Bandcamp page.
  Check out their Facebook and Twitter pages.


Leave a comment